Illinois Cruises to 17th Straight Win

The Illini welcomed Penn State into Champaign looking to extend their 17-game winning streak, and win the 1,500th game in Illinois Basketball history, and that is exactly what they did with a 90-64 victory. Illinois was led by Luther Head's 19 points on five three-pointers while Deron Williams had a double double with 11 points & 12 assists.

Illinois headed into Wednesday night's game a 30 point favorite and looking to tie the 1989 Flying Illini's 17-game season opening winning streak and win the 1,500th game in Illinois basketball history. The only thing in the way of the Illini was the Penn State Nittany Lions. After putting up a valiant effort in the first seven minutes of the game, Penn State just was not enough to contain the Illini as they won the game 90-64.

In the first half, the Illini and the Nittany Lions swapped baskets for the first eight minutes before the Illini turned up the defensive intensity and the offensive precision. At the 13:34 mark left in the first half, Illinois and Penn State were tied at 12. The Illini went on a 16-0 run, and Penn State was never within reach of the Illini for the rest of the game. At half time the Illini were up 44-25 with Shaun Pruitt and Warren Carter both seeing time on the floor for Bruce Weber's squad.

The second half was more of the same for the Illini as they got up on Penn State by as much as thirty, but the lead mostly hovered in the high twenties for the entire second half. As is customary in blow out games like this, Illinois' defense lapsed in the second half, and allowed Penn State to score 39 points, but the game was already out of hand and over by the time the second half started.

Four of the five Illinois starters finished in double figures. Illinois forward Roger Powell, Jr. would have scored in double figures if his slam dunk off a pass off the backboard from Dee Brown was not waived off thanks to an offensive foul. Luther Head once again led the way for the Illini with 19 points, while Dee Brown contributed 15 points on five of nine shooting from behind the arc. Deron Williams contributed a double double with 11 points and 12 assists. On the inside James Augustine had 10 points and 7 rebounds.

One of the benefits of Wednesday night's game for Bruce Weber was his ability to sit Illinois' starters and reign in on the minutes while giving some in game experience to his bench. Rich McBride, Nick Smith, Jack Ingram, and Warren Carter all saw more than ten minutes on Wednesday evening and were used throughout the game in different combinations, including with the starters. One lineup at the end of the second half had Nick, James, and Warren all on the court at the same time for the Fighting Illini.

Wednesday night should have been a confidence builder for the Illini's Nick Smith, at least Bruce Weber and the rest of the Illini Nation hope so. Smith saw fifteen minutes on the court, was four of five from the floor with his only missed shot being a three pointer, and he scored 8 points, had 1 assist, and 2 steals.

ILLINI OFFENSE / DEFENSE BY THE NUMBERS
Illinois' Offensive Efficiency: 149.30
Illinois' Defensive Efficiency: 102.04
Illinois' Points per Shot (Adjusted): 1.36
Penn State's Points per Shot (Adjusted): 1.13


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